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2017 Santa Ana Show Report:

Despite having been born in Santa Ana, California, and starting college at Cal Poly Pomona, just to the northeast, I visit Southern California very infrequently. Last winter, good friend and fellow dealer Albert Ray (Del Ray Agates, based out of Tucson, Arizona, with operations in Chihuahua, Mexico) convinced me it was time to change my travel circles, and add SoCal back to the list. As this was my first Show at this venue, I decided to only bring what I could fly with me. The flight from Reno to Orange County is relatively short, and follows the spine of the Sierra Nevada as we head south. As I was seated on the left side of the plane, my view to the east provided a neat overlook of Mono Lake, California (Photo 1). I've heavily explored the mountains in the distance for gold and silver, and heavily fished the mountains in the foreground for trout (Photo 2).

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Santa Ana is currently a "boutique" Show, based on what we saw. There was a lot of foot traffic, but the parking was very limited, and certainly played roles in moods of at least some of those attending. As usual, Apex had a great Show, as did Agates Del Ray! Despite grumblings and complaints of lack of sales from a few older dealers, the general environment was very positive, and the venue was much nicer than many we've worked (Photo 7). As a result, we've agreed to come back in November for the Fall Santa Ana Show - we'll see y'all again in a few months! 

From a "what's new?" standpoint, New Era Gems had an interesting assortment of blue-cap Tourmalines from a recent find in Tanzania. I think Trinity Minerals purchased the best pieces I saw in the group, which are still posted at trinityminerals.com.

Apex is committed primarily to our own operations in Nevada (see  our "Collecting Stories" section for examples), is still analyzing and preparing pieces from the many collections we've purchased, and prefers to use Mineral Shows to connect with as many old and meet as many new friends as possible. This results in a tight schedule, and we purchase very little material at the Shows we attend as there usually isn't enough time left for us to properly evaluate and negotiate deals that we feel are fair to our clients. This approach also generally keeps us super-busy in our Showroom!!! Friends stop by constantly (Photo 6), and we're always happy to talk rocks!!!

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I'm not certain whether it was the "laid-back" influence of SoCal, the exceptional service provided by both Show Staff and everyone working for the Holiday Inn / Orange County Airport, working with a class-act like Albert Ray, or a combination of the above, but this Show was a real pleasure to attend.

Final thoughts: Wayne Leicht (Kristalle) stopped by the room (Photo 8, with friends), prompting me to mention the summer of 1983, when my dad (Army) was transferred from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Northern Virginia. Given a block of time, we (me 13 at the time) traveled first to SoCal to visit family, where I found a "rock shop" at Laguna Beach listed in the phone book.

​During our 1983 vacation, we had reason to visit Laguna for an art festival, and my mom made certain to get me to the "rock shop," which turned out to be mostly a jewelry dealership with beautiful mineral specimens that were all way beyond my $20 budget, but led to my introduction to Wayne Leicht and Kristalle

Clearly understanding my situation, and with other potential customers coming and going, Wayne took more than an hour to pull other specimens out from drawers and the back of the store, until we found a Cuprian Adamite from Ojuela, Mexico, which we could settle on for $20. I've never forgotten his gesture, nor those from my parents, grandparents, and even Jim Minette a year earlier in 1982 (see "About Us" on our Homepage).

​As an homage to their collective efforts, I've maintained a "pay-it-forward" mentality, and always bring specimens with me that I'm happy to simply give to a young collector to support their interests. But, they have to be able to demonstrate a real interest in collecting minerals, fossils, or other related artifacts.

This Show, Albert joined in spirit, with one happy collector showing-off a new Agate (Photo 9). Amongst several rewarded collectors, this pair of brothers stood out for their abilities to name several minerals without any help from their guardian!!! I gave them several specimens (Photo 10)!!!

​Ultimately, it ends up back on the road or (preferably) in an airport. Back at John Wayne Airport, my plane is starting to board (Photo 11), and I'm already thinking about coming back in November...

In the meantime, take a bit to browse our Mineral Galleries, and let us know at marcus@apxfm.com if there are any particular pieces you would like to see in person either in Denver this September, or back in Santa Ana this November...

PHOTO 2. 2016 photo of me and my son holding a big rainbow trout I caught at sunset in one of the canyons actually shown in PHOTO 1! Fishing and mineral/fossil collecting are my two principal hobbies, and they share an extensive list of similarities...

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2017 Spring Santa Ana Show Report

Straight from the airport a couple miles to the Holiday Inn / Orange County Airport and into set-up. Albert brought 2 cases worth of world class Agates from operations he oversees in Chihuahua, Mexico (Photos 3 and 4). I managed a single case of what I typically refer to as "global eye candy" (Photo 5).